Modern Nature

Modern Nature

by Derek Jarman

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"Epiphanies infuse Modern Nature, Derek Jarman’s diaries from 1989 to 1990, with their ebullient evocations of gardening. For Jarman, planting flowers at his wind- and sea-blasted cottage and then reciting their names (endlessly, passionately) becomes sex, becomes the fullness he’s on his way to leaving as he grows sicker from AIDS." —Village Voice Literary Supplement

"The pace of Jarman’s life as chronicled in Modern Nature is unpredictable. In more energetic moments, Jarman cruises the public parks, makes a film without a script (The Last of England, 1987), and attempts to get Matt Dillon’s heartbeat for a project. He plants saxifrage and sea kale. He starts taking AZT. When Jarman discovered he was seropositive, he set himself a goal: to disclose his status and survive Margaret Thatcher. These he has done with aplomb." —Artforum

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Fans of British filmmaker Jarman's Caravaggio and Wittgenstein , as well as students of gay life, may enjoy these journal excerpts; others will find them too obscure. The third of Jarman's memoirs (following At Your Own Risk and Dancing Ledge ) covers the years 1989 and 1990, during which he struggles to keep working despite his status as publicly HIV-positive, and he reflects on life, sensuality and the beauty of nature. He writes sensitive, observant prose, though the book's fragmentary style sometimes vitiates its power. Nevertheless, Jarman offers resonant passages on the tragedy of the AIDS era, how the ``heterosexuality of everyday life enveloped and asphyxiated me,'' and how, ultimately, despite being what some see as ``a `guilty victim' of the scourge, I want to bear witness how happy I am, and will be until the day I die, that I was part of the hated sexual revolution.'' He ends with parallel catalogues of the constants in his life: the flowers from his garden and the prescriptions from his pharmacy. Photos not seen by PW. (Feb.)
Library Journal
Controversial British filmmaker Jarman's third published journal more than matches the extraordinary quality of Dancing Ledge ( LJ 5/15/93) and At Your Own Risk ( LJ 12/92). This memoir covers 1989 and 1990. Diagnosed as HIV-positive four year earlier, Jarman tells of how he occupied himself with his garden at a cottage on the coast of Dungeness. Mixed with his descriptions of planting are fascinating bits of plant and flower lore. The author looks back to his childhood and the schools of the 1960s--as they actually were, instead of how the current nostalgia craze paints them. Candid, critical, and moving, Jarman uses words as skillfully as he does images in film, to evoke a scene or make a point. Though the abrupt ending leaves the reader hanging, this is a rare and marvelous book. Highly recommended.-- Marianne Cawley, Kingwood Branch Lib., Tex.

Product Details

University of Minnesota Press
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5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)

Meet the Author

One of England’s foremost filmmakers, Derek Jarman (1942-1994) wrote and directed several feature films, including Sebastiane, Jubilee, Caravaggio, and Blue, as well as numerous short films and music videos. He was a stage designer, artist, writer, gardener, and an outspoken AIDS and queer rights activist in the United Kingdom and the United States. He wrote several books, among them At Your Own Risk, and Chroma, forthcoming from the University of Minnesota Press.

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